Firearms Law and Inheritance
There is probably no consumer product as heavily regulated as firearms. State and federal statutes govern every conceivable aspect of the purchase and sale of anything that shoots. There are so many laws and regulations governing the ownership, possession, transportation and transfer of firearms tha
Transfer of Guns as Part of a Decedent's EstateOne area where even experienced attorneys sometimes foul up is the transfer of firearms as part of a decedent's estate. Transfers to anyone other than a legatee will require full compliance with federal and state laws which require each firearm to be transferred on the books of a licensed dealer, filling out a federal form 4473 and, in some cases, a Pennsylvania "record of sale" form, and a background check through the federal National Instant Check System ("NICS") or Pennsylvania Instant Check System ("PICS"). These rules apply to both hand guns and long guns, and can complicate the liquidation of an estate. Trasfer on the books of a licensed dealer can be difficult to arrange. Many licensed dealers do not wish to become involved in the transfer of a firearm they did not sell as part of their business. Those that do will charge a premium for the transfer service. Many dealers will offer to "buy out" an entire collection, but will offer a fraction of the value of the collection. Prohibited Persons: Individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition Both Federal and Pennsylvania laws specify very broad categories of individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition. Such people are referred to as "prohibited persons." Some legatees will turn out to be "prohibited persons," and it is a crime for the Administrator to deliver a firearm to such a person. Even if criminal liability is not an issue, it can be very time? consuming to try and recover a firearm from a prohibited person, and explain to a client how such an error was made.
SO WHAT DO I DO ?A gun trust can avoid some of the federal transfer requirements and accomplish other goals as well: Allow more than one person to possess and use the weapons held in trust. If you name more than one person as trustee, each trustee will have the right to possess or use the trust firearms
Making a Gun TrustA gun trust is quite different from the common revocable living trust, which is used, like a will, to leave your assets at death. A simple living trust allows survivors to transfer trust assets without going through probate court, which saves time and money after your death. It generally terminates shortly after your death, when the trust assets have been distributed to the people who inherit them. Many people make simple living trusts on their own, with the help of a good plain? English book or online service. A gun trust, on the other hand, may have multiple trustees, be intended to last for more than one generation, and must take into account state and federal weapons laws. If you want to leave guns in trust, consult a lawyer who has lots of experience with the state and federal laws that govern who can legally use and possess weapons and how they must be transferred.